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A look at shingles, who it affects and why and the Italian people who say they can cure this disease.

Shingles, (Herpes Zoster), is an infection caused by a virus, (varicella-zoster), which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. The symptoms are infection of the nerves and surrounding area. A painful rash spreads along the implicated nerve area, so it can involve any part of the body, and some people even get in around their eyes and mouth - which can be more serious.

Most commonly shingles occurs in people over the age of fifty and can be recurring – (although doctors say it is rare to get it more than three times). It affects around 20% of the world’s population, and can happen to people who have already had chickenpox. The varicella virus never completely leaves the body and for, as yet, unknown reasons it may become active again. (In Italy Varicella is the name for chickenpox, named after the virus that causes it.)

Stress is thought to be one possible trigger that sets this virus off, and another is the immune system – with age, or severe illness, it does not work as effectively at keeping the virus under control.

photo courtesy of brownpau


For many years, if not centuries, people were unable to distinguish between a chickenpox rash and a smallpox rash. It was only around the end of the eighteenth century that a way was found to tell these two illness apart.

A tentative connection between chickenpox and shingles was not made until the beginning of the twentieth century, but this was not proved until 1953 by Thomas Huckle Weller.


One effected nerve is the most common, but the surrounding nerves can be infected as well, giving a larger area of pain and an extended rash. The most common areas to be afflicted are the chest and face. The type and level of pain varies from person to person, and can be mild to severe, dull, stabbing, burning and sharp. The pain is relentless and usually comes even before the rash shows. The skin around the rash is very tender and painful, and as a consequence wearing clothes hurts a lot and irritates the rash even more. Some people also suffer a fever and general feeling of being quite unwell for some days when they have an attack.

Although medical experts say a “bout of shingles” usually lasts for two to four weeks, many suffers would heartily disagree with that, saying their “bout” lasted for two to three months.

While shingles is not contagious, anyone coming into contact with a person who has shingles can catch chickenpox, if they have not already had it. It is transmitted by direct contact with the blisters that form on the rash, so keeping this covered will eliminate the possibility of contagion.

Although most people do not have any lasting damage, (some scarring may remain after the rash has dried up), some do suffer nerve pain, (neuralgia), even after the rash has gone. A few unfortunate sufferers have been left with the pain for a very long time.

If shingles occurs around one or both eyes it can make the eye inflamed and lead to loss of vision. The same applies to an ear, and if a motor nerve is implicated, the muscles that rely on that nerve may also be involved, leading to weakness.

photo courtesy of MorgueFile


The treatment is for the symptoms, not the disease and aims to relieve pain and tries to prevent neuralgia. As yet there appears to be no cure for this common illness – you just keep it until it goes away. In severe cases antiviral medication may be recommended. Health professionals will probably suggest loose fitting clothes, so that they do not rub and irritate the rash, but this is really as far as it goes.

Research seems to show that people over the age of sixty are less likely to develop shingles in they are given a chickenpox vaccine, but further research is needed before this becomes standard practice.

photo courtesy of MorgueFile

Alternative Medicine and Shingles

Shingles is called “Saint Antony’s Fire” in Italy, “Il Fuoco di Sant’Antonio”, due, apparently, to some complicated and long story about the paintings of Sant’Antonio Abate, who believed the devil tormented him with fire. The burning he felt is comparable to the burning sensation felt with shingles – or so it goes. This name sounds better than “shingles” and gives a more accurate description of the illness.

There is an alternative “cure” for shingles in Italy, and it has worked in 100% of the cases treated. It is natural, non-invasive and safe, but somewhat unorthodox. That is the reason doctors in other countries do not take it seriously. It may already be in use in other countries, but as it is not talked about, this fact remains a mystery.

To make the “cure” for shingles sound credible, I have to tell you a personal story and say that I witnessed the whole thing, otherwise I too would have trouble believing it.

My father believed that all doctors were “quacks”, (a derogatory term meaning an unqualified person who dishonestly claims to have medical knowledge), and anyone who practiced alternative medicine should be burnt at the stake. This is not a character analysis of my father, who was a wonderful man, but goes towards proving it was not physiological thought that made him better.

He developed an extreme case of shingles, all over his body – except, luckily, his face. The doctors admitted it was a really bad case of shingles, but could only give him cream to “calm” the rash and painkillers for the pain. He refused the pills, but using the cream provided little or no relief.

My mother had heard that leek juice calmed the rash wonderfully and, with difficulty, persuaded my father to try it. It worked and he felt around 80% better.

The problem with this was twofold. One, finding enough leeks to get a reasonable quantity of juice was not easy and secondly it was messy, (it had to be poured over him in the bath or shower), and wore off after 4-5 hours.

They were due to visit us, (my husband and myself), in Italy, and being my father he came anyway, as a “little thing like that was not going to stop him”.

In Italy there are a handful of people who can “cure” shingles. The “cure” is a well guarded secret passed from father to son sometime around the end of the year.

Exact details are confidential, but involve certain parts of a particular plant collected in a specific manner, and something that is silver. The practitioner does not touch the patient but uses these items along with certain words at the “end of the day”, (around sundown), for three days in a row.

The burning sensation usually stops around the second day, and by the last day the scabs are generally reduced. In some cases the scabs have vanished by the fourth day and very soon afterwards both the patient and their doctor say it is as if the person had never had shingles. Where shingles can normally return, with this treatment it has not returned in any of the patients.

Italian doctors send their patients to these “shingles practitioners” saying it is the best cure they can recommend.

The practitioner can not accept monetary gain for this “power”, otherwise they loose their ability to heal.

Unfortunately the number of people one man can treat is severely limited – the plant can only be picked if certain climatic conditions are met, and with the treatment needing to be carried out “around the end of the day”, only one or two people, occasionally three, can be seen a day.

photo courtesy of MorgueFile

My father-in-law is one of the people who can “cure” shingles and with lots of planning and subterfuge we got my father there, but he only went to please all of us.

By the morning of the third day - everything had totally disappeared. No burning, no rash, no scabs and even no scars. As you need to complete all three days regardless, my father went anyway.

Arriving home in Great Britain my father, now a believer, challenged the doctor to find any indication he had ever had shingles. Nothing showed, which the doctor said was not conclusive.

His shingles never came back, even in times of enormous stress and severe family illness.

My husband now holds the secret and has treated some people with a 100% success rate, just like his father.

No one knows how or why this works – but that does not really matter, as long as it does.

If you suffer from shingles and find anyone who does this “therapy”, do give it a try, but if they ask for money you can be sure something is not right.

It is interesting to note that silver was used for medicinal purposes thousands of years ago. Even today there are some professional health care experts who say silver stops the herpes virus, and that is what shingles is.

Title image courtesy of Stockxchng

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Comments (5)
Ranked #2 in Healthy Living

Very informative and educational discussion on this infectious illness.

Truly informative. Voted up!

Good information, i have several friends, over 50, suffering from shingles..voted

Ranked #4 in Healthy Living

Thank you all. I know it is odd, but it does seem to work and helps relieve a lot of suffering.

Ranked #11 in Healthy Living

Good information! I had heard that it is pretty bad. When my mom got it, she developed an allergic reaction to shellfish that she never had in the past. Shingles aren't pleasant from what I heard. I will had to remember this article just in case. Thanks for sharing.